by Dr. Shilpa Saxena MD of Forum Health, Tampa
It’s story time again. While I enjoy writing educational blogs, my passion lives with patient recovery stories. In the medical world, we call these case studies, but to me that term sounds sterile. These are real people….parents, siblings, children, unique individuals who all have a story to share. So, without further ado, I introduce you to Ken!
Ken was was your typical 50 year old man: enjoyed good meals, relaxed with a few beers on the weekends, not very physically active and carried around an extra 20-30 pounds. He recalls being diagnosed with high cholesterol “a few years back.” As both he and I wanted more specifics, I ordered some advanced cardio-metabolic labs to assess his current medical status.
Here’s what we found: His LDL (lousy, bad cholesterol) was too high placing him at risk for heart disease (that means heart attacks and strokes), and his triglycerides were also too high. Terrible triglycerides make me think uncontrolled blood sugar issues. Seeing this risky picture of high cholesterol and potential blood sugar issues, I dug deeper……Ken’s blood sugar was also out of range suggesting that his body could not properly process the amount of sugar and starch he was eating. Actually after ordering a few more labs, we found that he had more than just “high blood sugar” on a screening lab – he was outright diabetic! Quick pearl: If your fasting blood sugar is anywhere between 100-125 on 2 separate labs, you have pre-diabetes and I would gamble that you are on your way to diabetes unless you do a major turn around with your lifestyle! So, there he was…. diabetic, overweight, sedentary and with high cholesterol. He represents what so many Americans are today. It’s no surprise that 67% of Americans are overweight or obesity and diabetes is alarmingly on the rise (even in kids!) But here’s where Ken’s story is amazingly different than what most patients experience in their health care story.
After reviewing his labs, I told him that cholesterol medication and diabetes medication would be recommended based on conventional medicine guidelines. He was shocked! He respectfully retaliated (as I would love from any patient willing to fight for his right for a life without pharmaceuticals). I advised him on how he could absolutely turn his condition around, but it would take a some education on my part and a lot of dedication on his part!
We provided the critical information (healthy nutrition plan, food label education, body composition testing, exercise education, stress management, etc). He brought the serious dedication – and I mean serious!!! For the first time in a long time, Ken put his health first! He was off and running cutting back on breads, refined sugars, fast food meals and restaurant indulgences. He began a love affair with vegetables, beans and fruit (a group of foods he never thought he could really come to like). He began eating smaller portions, timing them every 3-4 hours, and making sure he took in adequate amounts of lean, clean protein throughout the day. He even started exercising. I mean really exercising….and he’s now up to five times per week at minimum. He started coming to our on-site fitness/yoga facility regularly and taking cardiovascular and resistance training. We established this fitness/yoga facility with the intention of providing a low cost way for patients and the community to learn how to exercise safely and effectively with highly experienced instructors.
So, here’s the drumroll…… in just 12 short weeks Ken’s bad cholesterol dropped 163 points!! His triglycerides dropped 97 points and his blood sugar results went back to the good range. Ken was no longer diabetic! He was no longer a candidate for cholesterol medication or diabetes medication. He actually lost 50 pounds over five months through good old fashioned healthy eating and exercise, and without dangerous prescription weight loss medications. He has more energy than ever and is the best living advertisement for therapeutic lifestyle change! He comes to our fitness classes now not only to get his daily burn, but to pump others up in their battle for better, disease-free living.
Around the office, we often laugh about commercials for medications that say, “When diet and exercise fail…” The truth is, diet and exercise DON’T fail…..we usually fail diet and exercise! Adopting a healthy lifestyle is actually surprisingly simple….it just takes the right kind of education and a healthy dose of dedication. Ken’s story is one of so many of which we’re lucky enough to be a part. Please join me in celebrating Ken for an amazing transformation! Maybe you’re next……
Are you looking to improve your health? Our Forum Health providers can help. Schedule a free 15-minute health consultation to discuss your health needs and goals.